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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Canada

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a set of neurodevelopmental conditions characterized by impaired social communication and interaction, as well as restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests or activities. Sensory sensitivity and more extreme responses to sensory stimulation are also commonly associated with ASD. The spectrum encompasses three previously separate disorders: autistic disorder, or classic autism; Asperger syndrome (also known as Asperger’s syndrome); and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), or atypical autism. The prevalence of ASD has been steadily increasing worldwide in recent decades. In Canada, the current rate of diagnosis is 1 in 66 children. Public awareness and advocacy surrounding ASD have gained momentum in Canada since the early 2000s, with a landmark report from the Senate leading ongoing calls for a national autism strategy.